Monday, January 31, 2005
When I started thinking about the anniversary of the Challenger disaster, I had no idea the direction my thoughts would take me. Once I reread what I had written, though, I realized I had touched upon a subject that I had promised to elaborate on near the holidays, something that I have been trying to explore for quite a long time, namely the nature of love and trust. Sadly, since I don't have an analyst's couch available to me anymore, I rely on this place to do most of my subconscious spelunking and you, dear reader, get to watch each treacherous, painful step. Or, as George Bush says, if you don't like what you see, you can just "turn it off" ... Good Lord, what HAS the world come to, me quoting Shrub??
Of course, the very nature of my writing, and my domain, attracts some very odd visitors, many of which had no intention of coming here and reading about my first love or my kids or my losing battle with self-esteem and depression. No, many of you came here while searching for g taste whores (#1, though I have NO idea what that is ...) and "helping church whores" (#7 ... must talk more about church, apparently). What you find, sadly, is not a porno site but an introspective, personal blog written by someone who is as far from a whore as you can get. Yeah, I know, the domain is misleading but it was chosen as a lark at a time when I thought being obscene and inappropriate was funny, a time when I would have done anything for the person with whom I chose the domain name. Yes, love leads you to do some crazy things ... and that, dear reader, is where I am today. In honor of the upcoming holiday, which brings with it a whole host of emotions and not all of them pretty, I thought I would start exploring these emotions now so that maybe, just maybe, when that weekend comes around, my head will be clear enough to enjoy my first Valentine's Day with hope and peace and without imploding.
/nevermind if you don't understand ... please remember, dear reader, I don't write for you. I appreciate you and have spared you of some ugliness in the past because of my immense respect for you but, sorry, I do this for me. Continue at your own risk ...
My experiences with love have been varied and tumultuous. Though many people would not agree that adult (read: romantic) love is influenced by our earliest (read: familial) love experiences, I'm convinced otherwise. Yes, I have always believed that how a child is loved influences how a child grows up to love. In other words, I blame my family for most of my relationship failures up to, and including, my marriage. Any failure after that, however, is of my own doing.
Some background is necessary here. I grew up in a middle class family in a small suburb in Massachusetts, a city filled with hard-working, blue-collar Catholics of many different ethnic backgrounds. We were a mixed family: mom, a passionate and vocal Italian had been married before and brought 3 kids into this marriage and dad, an Irishman oozing sarcastic charm, brought one of his own. By the time I came along, both of my parents were thrilled - or so I was told. That didn't stop them from drinking and partying and acting like they were still single ... after all, this was the 60's and things were pretty swinging then, even if you were married.
Their barhopping and partying led to many dramatic scenes, including screaming matches, door-shattering and finger-breaking battles, various police visits to the house and a brief say in a mental ward for a revenge OD, all while we kids watched. For my part, I was too young to understand much of it but I did understand one thing ... I was small and unprotected and everyone and everything that I relied on for protection and security could be taken away from me at any moment. I tried very hard to be perfect and NOT cause anyone to explode in anger. I became the one that never complained, that never rocked the boat, the one that tried to solve every problem and cover every incriminating track before it ever came to my parent's attention. I brought home straight A's from school and never caused so much as a whiff of trouble. Despite my best efforts to keep my parents together and loving me, they couldn't be adults and, one Sunday morning, I woke to find my father had left for good. Since Sundays were typically our days together (going to church, walking the dog, reading the paper, raking the yard, watching football, doing puzzles, taking naps), it settled somewhere in my tiny brain that he had left me, not my mother.
The following years only confirmed my fears as he would routinely forget our Sunday visits together, leaving me to wonder what I could have done better, what I had done wrong the week before to make him stop loving me. Since he could do no wrong (he was an adult, after all, and I had been taught that adults were omnipotent beings of perfection), I knew it had to be my fault when he stopped loving me. Only in retrospect can I see now that he was a raging alcoholic and a self-important narcissist but, by the time I figured that out, I had a good 30 years of damage to undo.
Fast forward to adolescence, a time when my attitudes toward men would be most shaped by the people I was around. Unfortunately, by this time, I was living alone with my mom and she was taking advantage of being single, dating various unsundry men who wanted nothing more than to get me out of the way so that they could have a roll in the hay with mom. Some moved in, took over for a few weeks or months or however long it took mom to figure out that they were scum and then, with much drama and noise, they moved out. I was nothing more than an inconvenience to all involved.
About this time, I had my first sexual encounter, if you can call it that. My mom made the mistake of leaving a 12 year old girl in the care of a 16 year old boy and I found out that sometimes keeping secrets is necessary. After all, something bad had happened and I hadn't prevented it, I couldn't fix it, and so, in my mind, I was to blame. Even the Catholic church said I was to blame (there, my church reference ...) but that's the Catholic church for you ... blaming the violated, not the violator. Unfortunately, my shame after being scolded by my beloved priest kept me away from the one sanctuary I had (God) for the next quarter of a century, something I regret now. I'm afraid too much time has passed for me to be accepted into a church at this point or for me to allow a church into my heart again as fully as I had then. Rejection makes one skittish, I find.
Fast forward to college, a time of freedom and anonymity, surrounded by people that didn't know anything about my past, immersed in the theater department and the radio station which allowed me to succeed at something I was very good at, being someone other than myself. I became a personality, SharonO the sultry late-night deejay. Playing Nurse Ratchet onstage, the embodiment of power and evil, now that had to be the pinnacle. People that had come to know me would laugh at that casting, knowing I was the antithesis of Ratchet and wouldn't harm a flea, but that part let me enjoy, if only for 4 months, a power I had never had before. I controlled the actions of men with a look and a nod. I was mean and I enjoyed it. I even got a standing ovation for it, though the audience was booing while they applauded, the highest compliment an audience can pay an evil character.
Offstage, I had a certain confidence that followed me wherever I went. I allowed myself to fall in love and watched as he moved from one shallow relationship to another, convinced that, when the time was right, he would end up with me. And he did. But we've already discussed how that ended, didn't we?
The summer after he left, I met the future husband and, while I was away from my network of friends, he convinced me that I needed to be taken care of. Taken care of? In 22 years, I had never been taken care of by anyone but myself and, yes, I was tired of it. It was easy to let go of the reins ... I had no idea that becoming a passenger in my own life would lead me to where I ended up. I thought that his 'taking care of me' meant that he loved me ... after all, he used those words but, in truth, one of the first things you learn when learning a new language is how to say "I love you." That and "Where is the bathroom?" will get you pretty far on your first day in a new country.
I convinced myself that I loved him and, well, I ended up loving him in a desperate, "please don't leave me because I'm unable to take care of myself" kind of way. I was foolish to marry him but, I have to admit now, I am glad I did. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have my kids and I wouldn't have gone to a shrink to figure a lot of this out but I do regret how much time I lost being angry and depressed while married to him.
This second adult love in my life mirrored my first love, my father. No matter how perfect I tried to be or how much I tried to please him, he ended up leaving. While I was trying desperately to be better, he was lying to my face about what he was doing with money, sleeping around while he was on the road and berating me for not being pretty/thin/smart/graceful/good enough to keep him.
If my self-esteem had been shaky before, it was through this relationship that it took the worst beating. he would constantly show me pictures/movies/magazine clips of women that were the kind of women he thought were sexy and, oddly enough, I had nothing in common with any of them, a fact that he seemed to enjoy pointing out to me. My boobs were too big/too small, my ass was too fat/not fat enough, my hair was too long, my face too plain, my makeup too thick, my clothes too provocative/not provocative enough. No matter what I changed though, it still did nothing for him. He continued to use porn to get turned on and only came to me when he could catch me unaware, dominate me and then humiliate me.
Fast forward to his leaving and my meeting the third love in my life, the previous other half of this website. I won't elaborate on our relationship here because I still have respect for him and his wishes. Although I have been accused of saying terrible things about him here, I never have, nor will I ever do that. He was a good man, whether he believes it or not. Time and distance became our nemesis and, when it became apparent that, after 5 years, nothing was going to change the distance aspect of our relationship, things pretty much disintegrated. The silence was all my fault,
but the stagnation, no, I can't take the blame for that. Moss was growing long before I came along and my kinetic energy only reached so far, lasted so long.
Fast forward to today. Here I sit, reflecting on missteps I have made, mistakes I have taken the blame for, miscommunications that I have perpetuated ... and I'm realizing something for the first time in my life. I no longer need a relationship that mirrors an earlier, failed relationship so that I can possibly fix it, or fix myself, and do it right this time. I have been lucky enough to meet someone that doesn't have a hidden agenda (no matter how hard I try to find one ... old habits die hard), someone that doesn't want any more from me whan what I can give him.
When faced with this, my first instinct is to expect such a good thing to go away (apparently, old insecurities die hard, too). I spend 98% of my time just feeling lucky that someone would even want to spend time with me and the other 2% of my time convinced that no one should want to spend time with me. Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe it.
In this case, I know the fixing DOES have to come from me, not that I have to fix myself to be better but that I have a lifetime of unlearning to do. I want to finally trust my instincts that have been screaming to me from day one that "YOU CAN FUCKING RELAX NOW!! HE'S A GOOD ONE!!". I only hope he is patient enough to put up with my insecurities for a little while longer while I work through them.
Until I became a mother, I thought I had to be perfect to be loved. As a matter of fact, I don't think that I had ever experienced pure, unconditional love until I looked into their eyes. For some inexplicable reason, they love me even though I am FAR from being a perfect parent. This is as fortifying as it is baffling but I guess that is what love is all about.
Am I worth waiting for? *sigh* There's the million dollar question.
If you were taking a random survey on the street today, asking about the standards of society, the nature of self-esteem and how I see myself, I think you know the answer I'd give.
If he asked me, I would tell him yes, I'm worth it ... a totally self-serving answer, naturally, but I do believe that, in this instance, it's true.
SO ... I have a lot of work to do but it's worth it. I am worth it. And I'll keep repeating that until I believe it.
"posted here just yesterday ... excuse the cross posting but I would love to get a dialogue going on this."
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A few weeks back, the blog was chugging along with the header graphic I chose on New Year's Day, a bit of commercial art from the forties named "Who me?". It's nice; I like it; it's just fine. Problem was that by the third week in January I was bored with it. I decided I'd change to something else for February. Hey yeah, that's it: I'll change the header picture every month. So, what should I put up for February?
First I went, as I often do, to a very cool site called World Wide Retro, which has mass quantities of clip art, pinups, pulp covers, vintage erotica, etc etc. Gacked an item or two, including this nifty cover of Flirt magazine from, oh I dunno, probably the forties, don't think it could be from later than the very early fifties. Look at it. It's gorgeous. Somebody painted a pinup of a very curvy redhead wearing a tight sweater, a skirt that seems to be falling off, nylons with very visible garters, and not much else. Except earmuffs, because it's cold, you see? It's February! It says so right in the top righthand corner. This also explains why Curvy Red is sitting on a radiator. Lastly, she's giving us that pouty, clueless, requisite pinup look. You can almost hear her saying:
Gee, I'm so cold! WhatEVER can I possibly DO to warm up?
Oh you mean like putting on long pants and a parka and some fur-lined boots?! Well, where's the fun in that? This is not serious art. It was never meant to last through all eternity. It's a little cheesecake for the cover of a magazine called "Flirt" , fer cryin out loud. I just love it. I think Curvy Red's a knockout.
Knowing, as you probably do by now if you've read my blog for any length of time, that I'm constantly honing what I laughably call "my skills" with Paintshop Pro and Photoshop and MS Paint, you won't be surprised to read that I altered Curvy Red's pic a little bit -- here's my paintshopped version -- and put it up as my new header picture. Woo hoo! I was very happy with the whole thing. For about a day.
I wish I could tell you that I received lots of feedback about the new pic from many of my regular readers. I actually do have some regular readers out there. You know who you are. The truth is that I didn't receive lots of feedback. To be precise, I didn't get any feedback at all. Well OK, you say. Everybody probably thought the picture was nice and went on with their lives. No big whoop. So what's the problem?
I'll tell you what's the problem. The problem's me. Every time I looked at my Curvy Red header picture I felt twinges of anxiety. What is my blog header picture saying about me? What am I saying about me? Am I saying that I look like Curvy Red? Am I saying that's me sitting on a radiator like a complete idiot in my suburban Minnesota home in February 2005, displaying a creamy expanse of thigh with the fuck-me-now garters and wearing the Little Annie Fanny expression?
[Jebus H Christ the Baron Krauss Von Espy! she exclaims, invoking Coen Brothers phraseology as she so often does in times of horror or astonishment, when no other filmmakers' dialogue is adequate.]
Oh come now, you say. People who read blogs are an intelligent, cosmopolitan group, fully capable of discerning multiple nuances of meaning in all aspects of life including blog graphics. People who can't, don't read blogs. Or, not my blog anyway. People like that are probably all Freepers, and therefore only allegedly people, so to hell with 'em.
Okay, but what about the fact that I chose the pinup picture because I like it? A minute ago I was saying that I think Curvy Red's gorgeous. A knockout. Is this a long-hidden lesbian persona of mine coming to the fore? Well, no. Because I don't have a lesbian persona, hidden or otherwise. Really. I'm just plain boring old hetero me. Nothing to see here, folks. I'm not the dyke you're looking for. Move along. Do you think it's impossible for a woman to find a female pinup attractive or appealing or just plain sexy and yet not have a homosexual orientation? If you do, please please PLEASE take my word for it: it's possible.
But if I did have a lesbian aspect would that be so bad? I have often thought about a photo I once saw of a woman marching in a gay pride parade somewhere. She carried a sign that said I AM NOT GAY BUT THESE ARE MY FRIENDS. Nice sentiment. Solidarity and all that. It's a message we all need to see -- that gays and straights can and do coexist in the world in friendship and love. But at the same time I looked on that woman as a coward. Well-intentioned, but still a coward. What if she just marched in the parade without her sign? What would happen then? Would some spectators think that she must be gay? Probably. And what would be so bad about that?
There's a true litmus test for us all.
Anyway, back to my discomfort with the Curvy Red pinup picture in my blog header. What to do? What to do?
A) I leave it there, because I'm a rational adult and even tho the picture is what it is, I know that I'm not a deliciously pneumatic tart sending out a come-hither message to guys and gals everywhere. To be exact, I am a 52-year old woman living and blogging in America in the year 2005. Some other words that describe me are: white; fat; and pretty much asexual.
Or B) I change the picture to something else; to an image that's safely in my comfort zone.
To see what I decided, go on over to Tild~ and take a look.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
We would like to rotate that particular column several times throughout the upcoming year, so don't be shy. Tell us what's burning you. Feel free to use the comments or email one of us with your favourite cause.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
As you can probably see already, Blog Sisters has been given a site redesign (to avoid gender stereotyping, I'll omit any metaphors about makeovers or facelifts here) ;-)
As usually happens in the wonderful world of web development, there may be some bugs in the way the new site looks in certain web browsers. I've checked the site in Firefox and Internet Explorer for Windows. If any of you viewers have feedback or corrections for other browsers and platforms, please email me (Andrea) with a description of the issue and a screenshot. Any general feedback is more than welcome in the comments below.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
(sung to the tune of "We Are the World"):Hiphopmusic.com has more information on the horrendous judgment that went into this project, including a list of Hot 97 sponsors, and two petitions.
There was a time, when the sun was shining bright
So I went down to the beach to catch me a tan
Then the next thing I knew, a wave 20 feet high
Came and washed your whole country away
And all at once, you can hear the screaming chinks
And no one was saved from the wave
There were Africans drowning, little Chinamen swept away
You can hear God laughing, 'Swim you bitches swim.'
So now you're screwed, it's the tsunami,
You better run and kiss your ass away, go find your mommy
I just saw her float by, a tree went through her head
And now your children will be sold to child slavery
Update: Mindtangle provides a link to an MP3 response.
Seems ironic coming from a President who wholeheartedly and unabashedly supports the death penalty.
However, I'm sure that the phrasing "Culture of Life" is a turn on the Pope's indictment a few years ago of American culture as a "Culture of Death." If Bush is going to crib from the Pope, he should take a look at Catholic teaching and then fully model what he describes as a Culture on Life on what Catholic teaching might consider a Culture of Life.
A Catholic Culture of life would most certainly include a halt to the death penalty, which is something the Bush administration would never consider. A Catholic Culture of Life would also include many more social programs than the Bush administration would allow, thus fully supporting all children born to mothers denied abortion and lifetime counselling for those who commit murder. More money would be funneled into Social Security because it would be considered inhuman to reduce or privatize benefits paid out to the elderly and infirmed.
And a Catholic Culture of Life would be none too happy with Bush's idea of giving illegal immigrant workers of rich American families special "right to work" status so that those families would not be penalized for virtually imprisioning and actually underpaying people who want to follow the vaunted American Dream.
But, then again, Bush follows some fundy Methodism that seems to want to take its inspiration from revisionist interpretations of the Old Testament without ever consulting the Abrahamic traditions of Old Testament interpretation that have existed for centuries.
Like any under-achieving intellect, Bush likes to crib from other sources without giving them credit, without following an honest interpretation of the original source, and resorts to revisionism to support his far-flung and iconsistent opinions.
Kind of scary when you think about it. More like a Culture of Mediocrity than a Culture of Life.
(whose blog is here)
Sunday, January 23, 2005
So, today, on the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I spent the entire morning and afternoon tracking thousands of anti-choice marchers -- in San Francisco. I initially hooked up with fellow pro-choicers at the Powell Street rally, but mid-way during the march to the Embarcadero, my freezing hands sought to cup some hot chocolate, so I made a detour into Boudin. When I emerged from the building, I realized I had been left very far behind, so I just walked straight up to the Embarcadero where I saw a crowd. I had walked squarely into the anti-choice rally.
Good thing I had my green pro-choice balloon and a NARAL sticker on my tit, 'cause I was not about to be made the young brown poster girl of the moral/religious fundamentalist brigade. The right has already become very savvy at this twisted form of affirmative action.
What was very disturbing to me was the number of children in this camp, very proudly sporting their ugly-ass orange "Walk for Life" shirts and holding their "Women deserve better than abortion" signs. I stared down this one kid, and he stared right back. "Fucker, you're ten. Go home and color," I wanted to say.
Anyway, why the hell did these people have to come from whichever red states and red counties? From their look, most of them really did not look like they were from the SF Bay Area. They already have the government, the media, most of the states and counties, most of the blogs, and most of the money; isn't that enough?! San Francisco was the safe haven of progressivism (well... other than the female sexual commodification bit) I could take comfort in, as compared to places like say, Carson City, Nevada. But they can't even leave us alone here!
So anyway, after a few words from some stupid crazed asshole that blabbed on about how the media has a liberal bias and how pro-life is pro-woman (as if they would oppose any policies that truly screwed women over), the anti-choice zealots (ACZs) started lining up to depart from the grassy area and take to the streets. It is then that I spotted the pro-choicers across the way, waiting to march alongside these fuckers. Some were already up ahead, since the ACZs were going to march all the way to the Marina.
Rather than join the other people with green balloons and pink signs, I just waited until the twenty-five cops provided for anti-choicers' security ('cause you know those liberals are dangerous people) allowed the ACZs to parade onto the street, and I stood in the middle of their path, facing them, poker-faced.
They were all actually very polite while walking past me as my balloon kept bonking people on the head. Some people even said "excuse me" nicely, and one person said, "Careful with that balloon, you might bonk someone!"
A few groups were marching with big banners and had to walk around me. One of them was the American flag. Muahahaha. I love mature acts of engaging the opposition.
One woman came up to me with a pitying yet scornful look and said, "God bless you, dear." "God bless you too!" I cheerfully responded. God knows the biyatch could use some saving from her contorted views.
I then caught up with the green/pink crew to walk alongside the turds, and that's where all the rudeness was exchanged. The funniest argument that I kept hearing from them was, "You wouldn't be here if your mother had an abortion!" Yes, very good. Perhaps a lesson in semantics would help you to avoid such a stupid, obvious statement that is not probative of jackshit? Pro-choice. As in, you can choose. Not as in, you CAN'T choose. Not as in, you MUST have an abortion. For the record, abortion WAS legal when my mom got pregnant with me, and she chose to have me. So how the hell does that fit in with your logic? This is the same idiotic rationale some ACZs seem to have with gay marriage too. Nobody is *making* you gay marry! You can still happily breed, though I wish you wouldn't.
A couple of friends and I, though, are thinking about proposing an amendment to mandate gay marriage. That, coupled with the enforcement of abstinence 'til marriage, would ensure that the issue of abortion would never even have to be raised! Perhaps bombarding the younger generation with SpongeBob will do the trick.
It was very scary how the line of ACZs just would not end. And this is freakin' abortion we're talking about! I never considered it a "left" issue. It is so mainstream, so middle-of-the-road, so "duh"! I know that some people are weird about wanting to have mandatory waiting periods or parental consent forms for minors and shit like that... but the very ability to choose? And of course, I'm sure most of these "pro-life" people are pro-death penalty, anti-welfare, pro-war, etc. Probably a very small percentage have sincere religious convictions and would oppose forms of fucking up real human lives up too.
All this depressing bullshit makes me think, damn, why can't the left get it together? Not everyone on the right is 100% in concurrence with one another, but look how organized they are. They can get the numbers out here in full force, matching shirts and all.
But aside from the comparative dearth of resources and the differing priorities of various communities within the left, I find it hard to be down with "progressives" until we all seriously sit down and *really* *be* *progressive*. There are some negotiables (and I'm sure we'll all have different ideas on what those are...) and some non-negotiables. My hugest pet peeve is opposing one form of oppression by using another. Check these two instances that happened today. 1) A blonde pro-choice demonstrator walking up to an anti-choice group of people that were singing prayers in Spanish and yelling, "This is MY country, and here, women have a choice!" 2) A scruffy "liberal" man yelling to a cluster of marching Latinos and saying, "You're lucky you're even in this country!"
Defending women's human rights using xenophobic bigotry? Ignorant, ineffective, indefensible. We have a long way to go. All of us.
- gulab jamun
Saturday, January 22, 2005
The purpose of today's post is to lure you over to the newly launched
President Boxer. It's a group blog which I started in "honor" of Bush's 2nd inaugural.
It features commentary, news, and humor championing Senator Barbara Boxer as our next U.S. President. Additionally, it's a forum where we can hold Democrat lawmakers accountable and let them know that (1) they need to have a spine and (2) there's support for Democrats who courageously stand their ground on liberal issues.
So please stop by President Boxer and let us know what you think. And if our topics interest you, perhaps you'll even want to join our group of (so far) eight bloggers.
Her obsession with physical imperfection isn't unique. We read about a variety of other women with the same problem: the exercise-fanatical editor of Cosmo, a teenaged girl sent to fat camp, a Puerto Rican woman dominated by her mother's ideal of beauty, a model who lets her husband/plastic surgeon sculpt her body, a body-piercing lesbian, a middle-aged Jewish woman who gets her vagina tightened by laser surgery, a woman who got seduced by a pedophile when she was younger, a seventy-year-old African woman crusading against female mutilation, an Indian woman who has learned to love her body, Afghanistan women who eat ice cream even though it is punishable by death.
Some of these women have their body altered and others have eventually come to grips with their corporeal selves, learning to accept rather than hate. But one pervasive theme running through these vignettes is the want to be desired. In this case, the kind of desire Ensler wants to illustrate is strictly physical and sexual. Women today are confused--is desirability and femininity as depicted in the media and culture really the same thing that their partners want? Has society turned women into self-loathing maniacs because we're conditioned to believe that only the body matters and not intelligence or personality?
On one hand, I see the truth of these anecdotes. Who hasn't thought about a part of their body that they didn't like very much? Who hasn't had someone make snide remarks about their appearance? It hurts, and the first emotional reaction is that one is less of a person because of it. On the other hand, The Good Body doesn't cover any new ground. Feminism has been blabbering about body image issues for years. A preoccupation about appearance isn't going to disappear soon--biologically, attracting and finding a mate probably won't change as long as humans are still reproducing in the usual way--although society has certainly made it a problem. The Good Body outlines a solution: personal acceptance. But again, this is not new. The publication of this play only indicates that all the self-esteem classes that have been doled out for the past decade haven't been working.
(Cross-posted at Syaffolee.)
Boys were sort of allowed to write in them, if they were the "right boys." But for the most part, it was a secret way to find out more information about your friends and possibly blackmail them in the future about the "boy they like". I recall being brutally (to myself) honest and putting the names of the boys I had crushes on, risking them finding out, I guess cause I half wanted them to know.
There are emails that are quite popular going around that remind me of Slam Books. You know the ones, they have the same kinds of questions and you're supposed to forward the completed email to all of your address book. I have one sitting in my inbox right now, even with my aversion to spam and chain email and all those sorts of things being well known by my friends. I don't really mind one of these Slam E-mails because I usually just answer the questions and send it back to only the person who sent it to me. I just don't like to pass them around to a bunch of people who didn't ask-- if they want to know whether I like chocolate or vanilla better, they should ask me. I'm not just giving this info out for free, you know.
One thing I was remembering this morning at 5:00 when I did my current pregnancy "wake up with pain in hip and can't go back to sleep" trend was how I used to like to put the phrase that used to be part of a Virginia Slims ad campaign on my Slam covers: "You've Come a Long Way Baby." Virginia Slims quite cleverly used the historic tie between smoking & feminism to imply that smoking their cigarettes was a path to girl-power. You might remember this campaign if you're as ancient as I am. They would have cute women in old-fashioned clothing getting in trouble for smoking, usually with some fat old policeman with handlebar mustaches looking on disapprovingly. Or they'd be loaded down with laundry, or show the uncomfortable corsets women had to wear. Some sort of discomfort that used to be associated with women would be featured in a small, sepia colored inset photo. Then they'd show the liberated modern woman happily holding her "slim"* cigarette with no fear, smiling smugly cause she's "come a long way."
I liked the idea of being an independent, liberated woman, even way back before I had hit puberty. Girls could do anything they wanted to do. So I would include this phrase on my notebooks. People often looked at me, puzzled, and said "Do you smoke?" So quite clearly, the idea of "coming a long way" was, for many, firmly tied to that cigarette. I figured I could divorce its commercial meaning and still keep the liberated woman part of the phrase. Even though back then all I really had to look forward to was going a long way in my future. I had big plans, and they didn't involve smoking.
I have, in fact, come a long way, from a stringy-haired, freckled poor kid who secretly wanted the boy I liked to find out about it and declare his undying love back for me to a woman who has a soul mate who regularly declares his undying love for me, and it's not a secret at all. I have two university degrees of which I am very proud, and will get the third before this year is out darn it. I can bring home the bacon, but if you ask me to fry it up, I'll probably get a little woozy cause the twins-to-be-named-soon don't like bacon. I live in a great little "nest" of a home and have great friends and family.
It's a long way from there to here. And I'll tell you a secret that isn't ever asked in the Slam Books or E-mail Slams. I'm loving every single minute of it.
*Another catch-- the cigarettes imply you'll be skinnier if you smoke them too... see. They're clever, these tobacco folks.
Also posted at Kim Procrastinates
Can't they take a bath every once in a while?
Do they just travel around from protest to protest?
Where are all the normal people?
Ah, the usual suspects!
They don't look like they have jobs.
Protests have replaced Phish concerts!
Why do they have to go overboard?
Personally, I don't have a problem with the protesters. Then again, I'm not a person who needs convincing on the righteousness of most progressive causes.
We all know that mainstream media likes to portray groups of people in stereotypes. And the Right has their's, too. Whether or not these stereotypes are true or not is irrelevant. Perception is everything, especially if you want to sway opinion in your favor.
What can we do to change the perception the sway-ables have of us? And should we?
Friday, January 21, 2005
Just now on CNN they showed the above footage of an Atlanta store that offers dresses at something like a 75% discount with brides racing, pushing, and literally screaming as they ran into the store through a banner and I'm sure pushed and pulled frantically to find their "dream dress." The anchors playfully joked about how dangerous the place must have been. Yes, it looked like people were having fun, and there were a couple of grooms in there. In fact, late in the video there is a man running with "swishy" hands screaming and making fun of the whole thing with a big grin on his face. BUT the anxiety clear on the faces of many of the brides shows how seriously they took this event, how important this dress thing is to them. For the majority of the women, it was NOT a laughing matter.
Okay, fine. Let's not focus on our marriage, our spouse to be, but on the dress we'll wear. The issue is somewhat humiliating, and has granted me a rant for the day.
This is all part of the Cinderella syndrome. Even Cathy the cartoon strip is going through the same issue right now-- perpetually worried neurotic Cathy is finally getting married, and very day there's a wedding cliche played out in the comic, supposedly for funny effect. We saw Monica on Friends go insane, (and drive her friends that way too) with a huge scrapbook of the "dream wedding" plans she had been making since she was a little girl. Many women seem to think that on their wedding day everything must be PERFECT and they have to live a fairy tale, or else life is just not worth living. It's a major cause of anxiety and debt.
Is it just me, or is this a really sick precedent? A wedding is a really special moment, but middle-class people spend sometimes as much as 50 grand on weddings-- FOR ONE DAY. It can be just as special for a heckuva lot less money. Don't even get me started on what rich folks pay. Little girls should not be raised with the idea that the most important day of their entire life will be the wedding day. Yes, it's a big event. But I see it as a lot like "The Prom"-- you get a nice dress, you have some nice food and pictures, and the rest of your life and marriage is what is important. The MARRIAGE-- that is what is the most important thing. NOT the dress, the cake, the flowers. Not even the tiara.*
I don't mean to belittle or insult anyone's dreams by any means--but reasonableness really needs to prevail here. For the price of many folks' single day, one can put a substantial down payment on one's first house! Or put aside money for one's children's education! Or even go on a long vacation! To freakin' Europe for weeks!! Andrew bought me my first car with part of the money we could have spent on a fancy wedding. And we still had enough money in bonds to save to buy our first rental property, which we still have invested and is still making us money.
I just can't believe this sort of mindset still exists and is thought to be a quirky human interest story where women race screaming and pushing into a store FOR A DRESS. A Thing. A pretty dress is nice, yes, but you could get married in a pair of cutoff shorts and a sparkly tube top (and if you do, please please please invite me to the wedding.) :) The dress has nothing to do with your marriage; it's a fun part of a fun ceremony, but not something worth devoting this much energy to. I was both embarrassed and saddenend by this story, and the attitude about how women have or have not come so far in the last 30 years.
My wedding probably cost a total of about 5,000, and I had a very nice, small, simple wedding with family & friends. I was very happy with it, and lucky to have a sister who was a catering person who got some great deals on the equipment and prepared all the food for me (which was low-key anyway.) I've been to some extravagant wonderful weddings in my time, and they were really neat. But even those were just one day in the life of the couple. The rest of the days are the important part, and I guess my concluding moral is that if you can't afford the dress of your dreams, perhaps your dreams are beyond your means. My friend with the extravagant wedding could afford to spend more-- she didn't have to belittle herself racing screaming into a store for the amusement of the cameras, standing in line for hours, for a dress at 75% off.
I, with lesser means for the wedding, bought a used dress, not a used husband. The "bad" or "good luck" comes from your choice of mate, not your choice of a dress. (Besides, the wedding dress as we know it is a Victorian custom. It's certainly NOT something that is ageless and timeless. A tradition from the same people who renamed a male chicken "rooster" cause they didn't want to say "cock," and who put skirts on table legs so that one wouldn't become aroused by looking at the feet/legs of your dining set. We really should take all the Victorian traditions to heart. Yeah.)
Don't be part of the running of the brides. (Where, if you check your metaphor, you will realize that the comparison being made here is to the running of the bulls, where the bulls=brides, or a raging mindless animal who is about to be killed on a sword in a bullfight is compared to a bride.) Have some dignity. Plan a wedding within your means, and then focus on getting to know your spouse so that you're not part of the 50% of marriages that end. And for the goddess's sake, save me a piece of wedding cake.
*And for a drag queen crow who loves sparklies like me to say this, you gotta know something is serious. :)
Also published at Kim Procrastinates
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Also, I'm pleased to announce my association with the newly launched HumorGuru.com, a humor magazine featuring eight professional humor columnists writing about every topic imaginable. (My own contributions will range from political satire to personal humor columns.) I hope you'll check it out and help spread the word about this spanking new and very entertaining humor pub.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Canada: 14; 18 for anal sex, sex with an authority figure, prostitution or appearing in pornography. A 14 year old may have sex with another who is as young as 12.At least homosexual sex (or oral/anal sex between heteros, for that matter) can no longer be outlawed by any state in the US... since 2003! Thanks to which, even Virginians can legally drop their virginity without getting married!
Hong Kong: gay 21, lesbian unknown, heterosexual females 16, heterosexual males 18
Ireland, Republic of: 17, 15 for lesbians and oral sex.
And then you have Ann Coulter. Uh... Can't the conserves find a mouthpiece with a little more intelligence or tact? Guess not- they have a hard time finding lots of things, like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But at least now we know why we can't find Osama!
Much as modern mass media assholes and educational institutions like to paint MLK as the moderate, peaceful dreamer, I'm sure he would dismayed by how little we've actually progressed.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Coming to the revolution a little late but still on time
This is the current From Where I Stand column written by Sister Joan Chittester for the National Catholic Reporter. Last time I posted about Sister Joan was when she was Bill Moyers' guest on NOW last November.
Hers is a powerful voice; an articulate voice; the voice of a person of faith who, remarkably enough these days, is not calling upon a vengeful deity to rain down damnation on all who are foolish enough to veer from the one and only one, true, correct faith that exists, i.e. [insert name of desired One True Religion here]. You know: a rational voice.
The Internet might even be a way to organize national conversations on current issues. We could start, for instance, by asking ourselves spiritual questions about political subjects -- like why it is that we are all so stunned, shocked, dismayed about the 150,000 deaths in Asia from a tsunami but we don't seem to be bothered a bit about the over 100,000 civilian deaths - most of them women and children - which, the Lancet study tells us, have resulted from our own invasion of Iraq?
Read the whole thing.
And, via the wonderful Newsfare , the text of a speech given by Dr. Robin Myers at Oklahoma University Peace Rally on November 14, 2004:
Arrogance is the opposite of faith
Let me give you just a few of the reasons why I take issue with those in power who claim moral values are on their side:
--- When you start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if your deceptions are justified because you are doing God's will, and that your critics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe that this is not only not moral, but immoral.
--- When you live in a country that has established international rules for waging a just war, build the United Nations on your own soil to enforce them, and then arrogantly break the very rules you set down for the rest of the world, you are doing something immoral.
--- When you claim that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and yet fail to acknowledge that your policies ignore his essential teaching, or turn them on their head (you know, Sermon on the Mount stuff like that we must never return violence for violence and that those who live by the sword will die by the sword), you are doing something immoral.
--- When you act as if the lives of Iraqi civilians are not as important as the lives of American soldiers, and refuse to even count them, you are doing something immoral.
--- When you find a way to avoid combat in Vietnam, and then question the patriotism of someone who volunteered to fight, and came home a hero, you are doing something immoral.
--- When you ignore the fundamental teachings of the gospel, which says that the way the strong treat the weak is the ultimate ethical test, by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest among us so the strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker, you are doing something immoral.
--- When you wink at the torture of prisoners, and deprive so-called "enemy combatants" of the rules of the Geneva convention, which your own country helped to establish and insists that other countries follow, you are doing something immoral.
Read the whole thing.
All I can say is: if you need to feel hope, as I do, that it's possible to affect the outcome of world events, then listen to these voices. We may be of many different Christian denominations, or non- Christians, or non-believers, but we can and must stand together against fundamentalist fascist oppressor powers wherever they may be, including the current US administration.
Also posted here.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Let It Bleed
One morning in fifth grade, I was just going about my usual business: brushed my teeth, pulled my pants down to pee...
"Oh my God... I shit in my pants!!!"
I was mortified by my rectal incompetence!
But wait, it didn't really look like shit; it was brown, but it had more of a soupy texture. I didn't know what to do with this, so I just took off my chaddi and presented it to my mom.
At first even she was surprised.
"You didn't get hurt, right?"
"I don't think so; I never felt anything there."
"OK, well... it looks like you got your period."
Oh. I remembered her telling me about this period thing. I would start bleeding every month because later I would have to have a baby, and I couldn't go to the temple when I had this thing, but I thought that was going to be when I was 13 or 14, not 10!
"So what do I do now??"
She went to the closet and came back with a small green package.
"This is a maxi-pad. You just tape it to your underwear so it covers the hole where you are bleeding from- you know, that is where the baby comes from. Do you want me to tape it for you?"